What are you buying in a $600 wetsuit that is not in a $100 one ? Kinda wished I knew this info before I mortgaged my future children's education money on my current wetsuit. With the amount of chlorine that I've been drinking in the pool and with my luck, my future kids will all be 8th year seniors. You're damn if you do, you're damn if you don't ... another important lesson learned in the life of a triathlete.
DISCLAIMER: No, I did not buy a $600 wetsuit. With the potential of producing a household full of 7th and 8th year seniors, I have to watch what I spend.
It depends on what you're racing. What are you racing? What's the water temp? What type of suit do you prefer? I have a high end full wetsuit that was purchased 5 years ago. It is in great condition. Cheapos don't last that long.
Yes, the type of rubber matters a lot. If you'd like an explanation of JIS (Japanese Industrial Standards) for rubber or any material, please contact me off line. In Triathlete's Annual Gear issue, they reviewed 20+ wetsuits and discussed the type of rubber, too. You can always rent a wetsuit from a merchant partner!
You get things like liners and sharkskin forearms. Cool stuff.
i woud say that you get what you pay for to an extent, a $100 wetsuit if you are just beginning in the sport will last a few years if you take proper care of it, it won't be the most flexible or the best suit out there but it will work.
dont' expect it to work like a $600 wetsuit, that is like asking a kia to drive like a ferrari, its not going to happen no matter howmuch you talk it up.
both will work fine in a race, one will be a lot nicer, lighter, flexible, and faster than the other, but if its all you can afford, then it will "work" for you.
i have an 9 year old orca suit, new it was 375$ and the top of the line from them, expensive back then now ti would be considered a beginner suit and sell for around $200 new, today's wetsuits are much better than this one, but this one still works very well. translation-read the slowtwitch site and get a gear review mag, you can get an amazing wetsuit for your budget needs.
Speaking of wetsuit prices, TriBonzai has a big sale on all types of tri gear Sat., March 21:
That was a pretty popular event at TriBonzai, including free bbq lunches of the Conte's/TZ type. Cervelos seemed to be selling like proverbial hotcakes. Darn expensive wetsuits tho, $200-$600.